Back in December I heard something on the radio that made me both sad and happy at the same time. It turns out that the last neon sign in Piccadilly Square in London was to be turned off by the end of the year. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing London at night, Piccadilly Sq is a sight to behold (for a picture click here ) The neon sign in question had been in use since 1987 and is the one belonging to Sanyo (shown prominently in the picture). The 340 square ft neon sign has been replaced with one made up of LEDs. Come to think of it, walking around London this past Christmas, the whole town was draped in LED lights.
I always thought of neon lights as something that was quintessentially American but they were actually invented by a Frenchman in 1910. They first appeared on the American shores in Los Angeles in 1923 in a car dealership and they quickly caught the imagination of a nation. By the 50s neon lights were everywhere and because of their close association with advertising they became known as the light of the American dream. According to the announcement, Sanyo wasn’t too worried about efficiency/inefficiency of neon lights – they just wanted something a bit more modern to showcase their logo for the Olympics.
I’m not sure everyone else would have that priority – most folks worry about efficiency first. So I went looking for something to help me understand the difference between the two. I found a document from 2006 which stated that neon lights were actually more energy efficient. With that said, this is a 6 year old document and as far as I know LEDs have changed by leaps and bounds during this period so I suspect LEDs have not only caught up but surpassed the performance of neon lights (if you know more I’d love to hear from you). And they are becoming more and more popular – you can quickly gauge the importance of LEDs by reviewing the US Department of Energy’s website or just walk around any major metropolitan area around the holidays. However, the LED market is still in its infancy and is having teething pains. According to a presentation made at the Strategies in Light conference last week, Jim Brodrick, the US DOE’s Solid-State Lighting Program Manager, cost is one of the most frequently mentioned impediments to adoption of solid state lighting. He also mentioned that reducing cost while maintaining high quality manufacturing is a key challenge for LED manufacturers.
I agree with Mr. Brodrick. Reducing cost and maintaining high quality is a key challenge met by not only LED manufacturers but all manufacturers of discrete goods. That’s why market leading organizations are adopting software simulation tools such as FloTHERM or FloEFD or thermal characterization testing solutions such as T3Ster (and some combine the two for an even more comprehensive solution) to shorten their design process, create higher quality products and reduce their costs. If you’re interested in learning how software simulation or hardware testing can help you create better and higher quality products with less cost then have a look at our website for free whitepapers and on-demand presentations. I’m sure you’ll find lots of good/helpful advice.
There is a reason why 19 of the top 20 LED companies use our solutions. So why don’t you come and see our experts at Semitherm in San Jose California (March 18-22) – we’d love to meet you and help you solve those tough problems too.
Until next time,